U.K. Broadcasters Summoned by Media Watchdog Amid Concerns Over Use of Children on TV

Ofcom makes its demand on the heels of controversy over a 13-year old actor's violent role in the BBC police drama "Line of Duty."

LONDON – All the major U.K. broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and pay-TV operator BSkyB have been summoned by the media regulator Ofcom over rising concerns about children in programming.

The media regulator has demanded all the British players attend a summit in January to discuss their duty of care to children under 18 as part of the rules under which they broadcast.

The move comes hot-on-the-heels of the BBC finding itself in hot water over the use of a 13-year old actor in the police drama Line of Duty where his role involved violence and sexually explicit language.

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Ofcom said in light of the BBC slip-up and "a number of complaints about children’s participation in other programs which Ofcom has considered recently," it is summoning the broadcasters to the meeting to remind them in the sternest possible terms of their duty of care to children on TV.

The regulator will also carry out a program of "spot check monitoring" of broadcasters' output to ensure they comply by the rules, it said.

Ofcom has launched an investigation into ITV1 reality show I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here after it received 66 complaints about a stunt broadcast in November.

It involved the seven-year-old daughter of Charlie Brooks, a cast member on BBC 1 soap opera EastEnders.

The actor and her daughter were left visibly upset after they missed out on being reunited when Brooks failed a task on the show.

The Ofcom broadcasting code states that "due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare of people under 18 ... irrespective of any consent given by the participant or by a parent, guardian or other person."

The section of the regulator's code also states that people under 18 "must not be caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in programs or by the broadcast of those programs."

The regulator said in a statement on Monday: "Ofcom reminds all broadcasters very strongly that, not only must they have robust procedures in place to ensure their compliance with rules 1.28 and 1.29 of the code, but they must also ensure that those procedures are adhered to at all times."

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